Director: Shira Piven
Writer: Eliot Laurence
Cinematographer: Eric Alan Edwards
Composer: David Robbins
Cast: Kristen Wiig, James Marsden, Linda Cardellini, Wes Bentley, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Alan Tudyk, Tim Robbins, Joan Cusack, Thomas Mann, Loretta Devine.
What a weird movie.
Kristen Wiig stars as Alice, a mentally ill woman who wins $86 million at the lottery. What does one do after coming into such a sum? Well, create your very own Oprah-style talk show of course. The problem is that Alice is obviously unstable as well as incredibly awkward, she is no Oprah, heck, she is no Tyra Banks, and that is saying a lot! Alice is not without her charm, but mostly everything she says and does is cringeworthy, from talking about bizarre sexual experiences on the air to calling out, by name, people she feels have wronged her in her past. Her enabling friends, coworkers, family, and employees are of no help, allowing her to give in to every single indulgence or whim she may have, and then sanctimoniously attacking and blaming the woman when the outcomes are less than desirable.
In a world where Alice is almost ridiculously shamed for her illness and is an object of ridicule and farce, it’s bizarre that all those around her, including her therapist (Robbins), come off as the reprehensible ones. The film doesn’t know if it’s a drama or a comedy and never really figures it out. It’s unable to capture the feeling of a dark comedy because at turns it turns too dark and takes itself too seriously, while at other times the tone (amplified by a too jolly score) the movie become almost slapstick in nature. The cast is well known and mostly ignored, focusing the movie’s attention on Alice’s crazy show and the content that should never be broadcast, even if it is on small stations with no syndication.
I don’t know what to make of this film.
Like Results, I watched this film because it has received Gotham and Independent Spirit Award nominations which prize smaller films and I was curious to see why. I am still, for both movies, struggling to see why.